Cameron’s new territory
Glen Cameron has expanded operations into previously unchartered territory, taking on a new contract in Darwin.
On any given day, a multitude of trucks, of various shapes and sizes, slowly pull out from a loading dock, truck yard or roadhouse and amble onto the Stuart Highway. They are embarking upon the long and dusty journey that stretches lazily between Adelaide and Darwin, that cuts a track heading north through the centre of Australia, where the temperature slides above 30, even in winter, on any given day…
And most days it would be reasonable to say that it’s not uncommon to see the owners of some of those trucks proudly steering their own rigs into Australia’s outback.
But what you don’t see everyday, what is uncommon, is a man driving a truck he owns, which happens be one from a massive fleet he also owns, all bearing the trademark of one of this country’s largest and most successful transport companies, which…yep, he owns. You might say he’s actually driving his entire transport empire up the Stuart Highway, and that’s probably pretty accurate, because he’s about to get even bigger. Glen Cameron has set up shop in Darwin.
A few people have asked the question and it would be reasonable for anyone who didn’t know Glen to muse, why would this man possibly consider leaving his family and the comfort of his luxurious office in Melbourne to rough it up in Australia’s outback when he doesn’t have to do so? But the fact is Glen does have to do this, that this is a man who is highly motivated and driven by an astute desire to know by experience, intimately, the core and soul of the industry in which his working life began, where his business was born and now thrives. If there’s anywhere Glen Cameron wants to be right now at the start of the new venture, it is at the coalface.
With two of his managers, Graeme Gooding and Gary Miller, Glen Cameron took the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a brand new Mercedes Benz Actros, pulling one of his 20 recently delivered Freighter low profile container skels, hauling, and intending to deliver, the very first of what will be over 100 container loads of freight to Darwin – in the first week of operations alone. Together they departed from a distribution centre in Gepps Cross, Adelaide, marking the beginning of a new journey. After 3000 kilometres, they pulled up in Darwin making the first delivery that reflects the foundation of a new distribution contract between Camerons and one of Australia’s largest retailers.
With Cameron’s taking over the new contract, the majority of the freight will be loaded into 48ft rail containers at the distribution centre in Adelaide and then taken north utilising rail services. Once in Darwin, Camerons will collect the containers from the railhead and effect the delivery directly to the retailer, providing considerable savings and efficiencies.
To manage the expected ninety to one hundred loads a week into the Northern Territory, Camerons has opened a new facility in Darwin with Steve Hutchison the newly appointed site manager along with a team of dedicated drivers to establish the Cameron name and business in a new territory as a serious player in a growing market.
Glen Cameron, while at the head of a continually growing transport and logistics organisation, is a person who takes considerable interest in his business, and the long truck journey from Adelaide to the Top End gives an opportunity to see first-hand what is happening in trucking along the way and in the Darwin region.
“What happens out on the road stays out on the road” appears to be the general consensus when the three were queried on some possibly embarrassing moments fit for publishing they encountered on their journey. Although it was always followed with a quirky grin, loyalty dictated there was no way they were giving anything away.
Prior to embarking on this journey it was apparent that there was a small measure of anxiety evident in Glen’s disposition, after all it’s been a little while since he’s driven a truck, let alone tackled a 3000 kilometre journey through Australia’s outback.
Although a couple of hours into the journey, with his I-pod holding 7000 hits plugged into the Mercedes Benz sound system, he confirms his initial anxiety was perhaps ill conceived while acknowledging that trucks and technology have come such a long way in a short period of time making the task far easier than it would have been not too long ago. Glen is adamant that today we really can’t comprehend what the truckies must have endured a generation ago when tackling this arduous journey.
“This is plainly evident when you actually reach the other end of the journey and reflect back on the unforgiving landscape you’ve just traveled through. For me in any case, it was a long drive,” he says.
Leaving the truck in Darwin, he then flies home to pick up where he left off a week ago, back to business and acutely aware of the job to be done with peak efficiency in Darwin.
To have completed the long drive from the bottom of the country to the top, Glen openly states that personally, the journey was a very fulfilling and rewarding achievement to have accomplished, although for Glen, this is closely followed by another equally impressive milestone of a more personal nature.
The week following is the 35th anniversary, marking the birth of the Glen Cameron transport empire. And the entire Cameron family of employees is invited to share in the celebration. If you speak to any one of these valued people they will happily tell you, in varyingly descriptive terms, that this is what separates Glen from his competitors. Glen’s strong sense of ethics extends beyond his immediate family and friends to include every person involved in his business, on every level, with a warmth and uncompromised commitment that is unshakeable – as it should be.
The guest of honour at the event is Glen’s father, Ed Cameron. Ed is widely known in the transport industry as an astute operator who established a very successful trucking business he sold in 1970. However, most in the industry who know, or have heard of Ed, rightly credit him as the man who brought Kenworth trucks from America to Australia. Ed is a proud man widely recognised by his industry peers as an extraordinary individual, way ahead of his time. He also desperately wanted to accompany Glen on this trip from Adelaide to Darwin but, at the age of 87, Ed’s failing health unfortunately just wouldn’t physically allow it, despite his longing to share this inaugural journey with his son.
Glen’s speech at this staff get-together to celebrate 35 years contains a lot of the standard formalities one would expect to hear on such an occasion. His words find their way to a small but attentive group of people, among which is a young woman you could be forgiven for thinking just stepped off a catwalk. This statuesque blonde can’t conceal the sharp aptitude she possesses. And the fastest way to get a smile is to ask her anything at all about her Dad. Glen Cameron’s daughter ‘little Sarah’, like her Dad, could be anywhere she wants to be, and right now she works side by side with her great friend, Dad, and there is no mistaking her pride.
Never far away there is the other woman of significance and importance to Glen, standing proudly by his side. Glen’s wife Louise, or Lou, as she is affectionately known around the office, demonstrates a clear and present admiration in her demeanor towards Glen, a feeling shared by both mother and daughter.
Just when you think it couldn’t get more personal, Glen is compelled to explain to everyone in the room why the Cameron name, and the way it is portrayed to the greater public is so important to him. Glen looks down at his father, pauses and takes his hand, and affectionately rests it on his father’s shoulders. He takes a deep, slow breath, “It’s because of this man.”
The Glen Cameron Group has been in business for 35 years but the journey is far from over, in fact as Glen emphatically states, “This is just the beginning…”